Oliver has very weak muscles – hypotonia is an unwelcome legacy of both congenital cardiac disease and prematurity. He also has very lax joints. When Oliver tries to use a pencil or pen, his hand basically collapses and the only way he can hold it is to use his hold fist, in an bizarre claw-like grasp. After 18 months of kindergarten, despite multiple writing implements and many adaptive devices there has been no progress. The tripod grip that we all take for granted seemed to be as elusive now as it was when he first started kindergarten in 2008. We had hoped with age his muscles would gain strength, and some have, but not his hands. And so, he avoids drawing and writing, because to try and try and still not succeed is just too much for a 6 year old to bear (sadly, he can’t always see that his trying is such a huge success in itself).
We decided to get an occupational therapist to work specifically on his hands. Oliver’s other muscles seem to be getting just a little bit stronger (he can finally jump with 2 feet off the ground, a feat worthy of a month of blogs!), but his hands still collapsed immediately on any writing implement. After several different tools she settled on Crayon Rocks – yes, crayons shaped like little rocks.
There is only enough room for a tiny thumb and 2 fingers, it is not possible to write and grasp them like a claw. And they are cool – multicolored and unlike anything we had used before. They are more like a toy than an adaptive device. They are also made of soy, so completely non toxic and all natural.
CRAYON ROCKS ARE A MIRACLE!!!!! There Oliver is, using a correct writing posture, drawing with rainbows and suns flowing out of his little hands. And each time he hold his hands correctly, he is strengthening his muscles and developing important muscle memory. It is amazing how success breeds success.
And this week, when I volunteered in his class, I saw him grasp his pencil and start to write with his old claw-like grip, so I leaned over and whispered, “Just like the rocks, baby.” He didn’t look up, but I saw the creep of a small smile in his lips and a flash of confidence in his eyes as he corrected himself and finished the task holding his pencil in a triumphant tripod grip. I looked away, because clearly I had something in my eye.
(Check out the Preemie Products page for a link to the Amazon site for Crayon Rocks).